BRATTON…What Covid shots?, Bookshop History details, Lord’s Last Supper revisited, Santa Cruz protest documentary, Move to Amend, movie critiques, Brattyworld. GREENSITE…on the Riverfront Development. KROHN…3 Dot journalism, Caen, Ivins, Cockburn. STEINBRUNER…Regional Transportation Commission mystery, sewage and disease, Aptos La Selva fire district dissolved, censorship and the Board of Supervisors. PATTON… “Protestors are like our children” EAGAN…classic Deep Covers and Subconscious Comics. QUOTES…”LOVE”
DATELINE January 18
COVID SHOTS IN SANTA CRUZ? What’s going on with the miserable state of not getting our Covid shots in Santa Cruz County? Other small counties are much more efficient and transparent in handling the distribution. Now we’re hearing that some of our friends, or co-workers, or even neighbors are getting their shots… but not us. Palo Alto Medical Facility, also known as Sutter Health, states on their hard-to-navigate website that no Covid shots are available in the 95060 zip code…yet a few are getting them. Is it at our County level? Are our Board or Supervisors doing anything about this? This is a serious problem…let’s make our health officials be clear with some facts and statistics about our Covid problem.
BOOKSHOP SANTA CRUZ ADDENDUM. Thanks to Shelley Hatch, and some other long time friends and readers, I need to add and correct last week’s statement in this space… “The Bookshop has been downtown for over 55 years, and has been owned and operated by the Coonerty family all of that time”. The reality is that Peter Demma and Ron Bevirt owned and operated the Hip Pocket Bookstore which was located in the St. George Hotel. When they closed the Hip Pocket in 1966 Ron and Sharon Lau bought the books and opened Bookshop Santa Cruz across the street at 1547 Pacific Avenue. As Neal Coonerty stated in the press…” I still remember my first day as owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz. The Bookshop had been open for seven years, run by founders Sharon and Ron Lau. When they decided to sell the store, my wife Candy and I were delighted. Owning Bookshop Santa Cruz was our dream come true. We took over on November 1, 1973″. The 1989 earthquake destroyed the Bookshop and the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company sites killing two employees of the Roasting Company. Ron and Sharon then had to fight enormous and unfair battles to develop their property at 1547, which we know today as the Park Pacific condos built by Swenson Developers. Ron Lau’s son Eric went on to create Oswald’s restaurant.
SANTA CRUZ RESPONDS TO THE GULF WAR. John Malkin made a 25 minute documentary about local Santa Cruz reactions to the USA getting involved in the Gulf War in 1991. You can, and should, watch it on the right.
You’ll see Scott Kennedy, Gary Patton, Leon Panetta, Bettina Aptheker and hundreds of locals question and condemn President George H.W. Bush’s approach to the Middle East “conflict”. The UCSC rallies and highway sit-ins show a real connection to the continuing divide between our Washington government and the popular hopes for world peace.
January 16, 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Gulf War and the United States’ Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. In honor of those who objected to the destruction of another war, local journalist John Malkin is releasing online for the first time his 1991 film “Santa Cruz Responds to the Gulf War.” The 25-minute documentary highlights rallies, demonstrations, teach-ins and direct actions that took place in Santa Cruz and San Francisco in response to the “first” Gulf War.
The Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz will be hosting online screenings of “Santa Cruz Responds to the Gulf War.” For details, go to riotheatre.com
MOVE TO AMEND. Irana Sheperd sent this reminder… Move To Amend has been doing great work since 2009, and now (finally!) have many cosponsors in the House, including many from CA. They started as anti-corp, anti-Citizens United; now have same goals, a slightly different approach. Very interesting, and hopeful – especially in this climate”. MOA works to legalize democracy and end corporate rule. They’ve got a big kick-off on January 21. Check them out here..
BRATTYWORLD. My artistic, creative daughter Hillary has created a great product and website called “brattyworld” brattyworld.com . Be sure to check it out and see the unique, beautiful, useful, durable placemats she developed from scratch. We used them at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they really add to the eating experience. My favorites are the ones by Levi Yaggy, an artist from the 1890s. With carefully chosen pictures on both sides, and a special durable laminated surface, these placemats will outlast everything. Check them out.
LAST SUPPER REACTIONS. After running the “historic” photo last week of the prepping of the Lord’s Last Supper, long-time friend and writer/reporter Lee Quarnstrom replied… “It brought back some odd memories to see that great photo of The Last Supper, which used to be the main attraction at the Santa Cruz Art league Gallery around the corner from my longtime residence on Ocean View Avenue. Over the years, I several times wrote my thoughts on the wax sculpture, which boiled down to the fact that Jesus and 11 of his dozen waxen disciples look like blond Norwegians with one stereotypical Semitic comrade, Judas, who is the dark-haired fellow in the picture in your column. Imagine a band of Scandinavians wandering around the deserts of the Holy Land! I always imagined that they were desperately looking for a bottle of sunblock!
I really wish I could bring you positive or even late-breaking inside industry news about the future of physical movie theatres, but no one on earth is predicting anything as to whether or not movie theatres will ever “come back”. And they just aren’t making or releasing movies like they used to.
KILL BILL, parts one and two. Quentin Tarantino created a masterpiece of movies with these dramas. Uma Thurman and David Carradine keep us totally absorbed in this saga of blood, sweat and brilliance. Sure you’ve seen it before, but watch it again, there’s so many subtle touches we missed the first time.
TIGER. A two -art documentary on HBO that tells us, or reminds us of all the troubles Tiger Woods faced in his golfing career. His sex life, his injuries, his children, his completely domineering father; it’s all in this expose. Still we watch and admire Tiger for the way he’s survived. Completely riveting and revealing. Watch it quickly while HBO is still featuring it.
PIECES OF A WOMAN. (SINGLE) This movie is a bit corny and cute but it’ll grab you in many different ways. A young couple has a baby with the help of a midwife. The baby dies and the plot thickens around the midwife and mom’s mother. The mother is well played by Ellen Burstyn. You could guess the ending, but I’m not going to help you. If you need to shed a tear or two during these sad times go for it. I liked it a lot.
SURVIVING DEATH. (SERIES) Six episodes about near-death experience, signs from the dead, seeing dead people, and reincarnation – including reports on hundreds of folks who have died and experienced some startling sights. The two parts on mediums seem too hokey. If you’ve ever wondered about seeing ghosts, watch the last two parts. It’s well done, and even informative…no matter what/how you believe.
LUPIN. (SERIES). A neatly twisted robbery plot of Marie Antoinette’s necklace from the Louvre. There’s revenge, politics (French politics) and many, many Louvre scenes. The plot is complex enough to keep you glued to your viewing device for all seven episodes. The acting is excellent and believable.
THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND. (SINGLE) Staten Island, like New Jersey, has a nutty and not-great reputation around the New York City area. Marisa Tomei does an excellent job as mother to a bunch of teen agers trying to grow up there. Steve Buscemi has a bit part, too. The boys’ hopes, dreams, smoking weed, and trying to face their predictable future make this a near tear jerker. I recommend it.
NOTES FOR MY SON (SINGLE). An 80 on R.T., this is a nearly true to life sad saga of a well-known Argentine woman dying of ovarian cancer. She’s got a 4 year old son and an engrossing husband ,who combine to make this a vastly superior movie. It deals with assisted suicide, euthanasia, sand edated death in a completely realistic way. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the emotions. It’s a fine movie.
THE MIRE (SERIES). A Polish murder mystery taking place in the early 80’s. An important community leader and a prostitute are found dead, and some competing journalists/writer’s search for the guilty guy (or woman) will keep you centered. Well done, nicely acted, and another season is coming soon.
HISTORY OF SWEAR WORDS. (SERIES) Nicolas Cage hosts this six episode childlike-idiotic documentary on our now (way over-used) swear words. The six are fuck, shit, bitch, dick, pussy and damn. These words are so common, and so often used on the internet and TV and the movies, you’ll wonder why they bothered. The origin of “fuck” is interesting, but not a shit to watch. But you’ll learn that Samuel L. Jackson is not the actor who has sworn the most on camera!!!
WELCOME TO THE FUTURE
Can you guess where the development captured in the rendition above will be located? If you guessed San Jose or Fremont you’d be wrong. If you guessed Santa Cruz along the San Lorenzo River between Laurel and Soquel bridges you’d be right.
And the red line? That was the 50 feet maximum building height allowed downtown until 2017 when the Downtown Recovery Plan was amended by staff, planning commissioners and city council to allow for heights up to 70 feet along the river and 80 feet on Pacific. This project will soar to 85 feet since the developer asked for and got a density bonus and a waiver for an additional story. The city attorney has determined that state mandated density bonuses don’t add a requirement for any additional affordable units to a project, hence the paltry 20, although other communities are contesting that legal opinion.
This development, named the Front Riverfront Mixed Use project is for 175 condominiums of which 155 will be market rate with 20 affordable for low and very low-income earners. This, plus 11,500 square feet of commercial space fronting the river, combining 5 current properties and bulldozing businesses such as India Joze and University Copy. I can’t imagine a future without either on Front St. but so it goes. (I recall the consultant for the Downtown Plan Amendments warning against fronting the businesses on the river side but that warning has long been forgotten.)
I, and others attended the many Downtown Plan Amendment public hearings at the Planning Commission during 2017. We voiced objections to the 20 feet height increase over the 50 feet limit set after the earthquake by the 19 member diverse committee tasked with addressing the rebuilding of downtown. Despite the challenge of reaching consensus under such a diverse group, they did and the Plan going forward was for downtown to retain its low profile in terms of height. The Plan called for two and three story buildings with a few exceptions. Obviously the iconic historic Palomar at 93 feet was the exception and was viewed as such. Fast-forward from 1989 to 2017 and now the Palomar is the yardstick by which new high rises are measured. “It’s not as tall as the Palomar” goes the refrain.
At the 2017 hearings, our concerns were met with a “don’t worry! When an actual project comes up for deliberation, changes can be made.” Indeed. A change from a maximum height of 70 feet to 85 feet. Can the Wharf Master Plan new buildings be far behind?
If you are interested in how the new council members voted you will be disappointed or pleased depending on where you stand. Council member Justin Cummings, while lauding the activation of the river that such development will bring (disappointing for a biologist) tried to secure more affordable units into the total. He made a substitute motion that asked the developer to consider earmarking 5 units beyond the affordable few for those with Section 8 vouchers. Since the government pays the difference between market rate and Section 8 the developer comes out even. Although recent state law requires all new developments to allow Section 8 folks to apply, you’d be naïve to believe that will actually happen. Given that all council members express concern over housing affordability one might expect full support for the motion. Only council member Sandy Brown voted in support. She reminded us that Santa Cruz has exceeded the state requirements for above market rate and market rate housing and the area in which we are woefully inadequate is low and very low-income housing. The substitute motion failed 5-2.
Council member Renee Golder opined it wouldn’t “pencil out” for the developer even though developer Owen Lawler would not lose a penny. New council member Sonja Brunner said: ” I of all people am really strongly for affordable housing. It’s a priority. A necessity. I said that in my campaign.” And then voted against the motion.
For those committed to affordable housing and uneasy about big scale market rate developments it is a difficult decision. Where do you draw the line? Foist a mammoth development on the sensitive habitat of the San Lorenzo River for a measly 20 affordable units or call it for what it is, woefully inadequate and a form of blackmail? Those 20 affordable units could well go to students, not current low- income working families since there are no family size condos included in the development. The city should keep track of what demographic actually gets to live in affordable units. Ten Ten Pacific was promoted as being affordable for our police, fire fighters and teachers. I hear the affordable units are full of students.
A yet unexamined variable is that “affordability” is based on the medium income of an area, known as the AMI (Area Medium Income). With 155 units in this development geared towards the wealthy, along with other similar large-scale developments already approved or in the works ( heads-up eastside), the AMI is pushed ever upwards. The result is less and less affordability in real terms and the destruction of the character of Santa Cruz in the process.
|Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association http://darksky.org Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.|
JOURNALISM, PART I.
Three Dot Journalism.
Herb Caen. Last week’s column was about some old-time Santa Cruz activists that I am missing the hell out of, and this week, it’s about some old-time writers that I am really missing in these troubled times. (Next week, I will highlight some new-timers, writers who are just killing it in the journalism world.) Herb Caen, rumor-monger, gossip columnist, and Bay Area humorist-journalist, formerly of the San Francisco Chronicle, was almost always worth the read…Caen was the king of the ellipse…and is credited with terms like beatnik, Bagdad by the Bay, the city, and Berserkeley…Caen’s was a kind of never-ending love story of “Ess Eff,” social life marinated in Ess Eff politics, which music, drugs and drinking, the Tenderloin and the Haight were always strong actors in a cast of thousands, 1000’s of Left Coast “fruits” and veggies, many of whom rolled onto the Barbary Coast from points farther east. A few Caen-isms: People who say “It’s not the money, it’s the principle,” mean it’s the money…You know how crowded it is on Union St. these days. That explains why Ida Brown, leaving a spa there, called out, “Anybody want my legal parking space across the street?: Louis Saroni: ‘Wait a second – I’ll go out and buy a car”…On “Herb Caen Day” back in February of 1997 he told the crowd, One day if I do go to heaven, I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to heaven — he looks around and says, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco’. Caen was born in Sacramento in 1916 and his love-letter-to-San-Francisco-life ended in 1997.
Texas Street Brawler
Molly Ivins. Back in the day she was the clearest and most logical journalist out of Texas who brought the Texas twang right into whatever she was writing. Always self-effacing, Ivins pulled no punches. About George Bush, and with a future crystal ball eye on the lugubrious Ted Cruz, she wrote: Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention. About the sleazy side of Texas politics Ivins penned, The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion. She was cutting, incisive, and funny. She found her threesome, bookended as she was by Texas liberal glitterati former governor, Anne Richards, and Texas Agricultural “minister” Commissioner and colorful down to earth humorist, Jim Hightower. The 80’s and 90’s Texas progressive humor and mirth (remember congress people Jack Brooks and Barbara Jordan too!) has been swallowed, succumbing to the ugly, smack-down of the Republican cock fighting of current governor, Greg Abbott, retrograde Sen. John Cornyn, and the unctuous Cruz. None of this latter trio could be accused of injecting any kind of smart and humorous Texas aphorisms into their everyday rants like Ivins, Richards, and Hightower displayed. Ivins did political satire quite well. She once pointed out that “Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel—it’s vulgar.” It was a good time for the progressives and Ivins, Richards, and Hightower were hell-raisers, whereas the other three, they’re likely going to hell. Ivins, born in Monterey in 1944, died all too young in Austin in 2007.
The Interesting Leftist Contrarian
Alexander Cockburn wrote a column, Beat the Devil, for the Nation Magazine from 1984 until his death in 2012. He possessed the wit and sarcasm of both Caen and Ivins, but sounded more bitter. In fairness, all three were accused at various times of being bitter. Cockburn held onto both Caen and Ivins’ best traits of skewering the rich and comfortable with pure caustic, sarcastic, and insightful political witticism. But Cockburn added another side, contrarianism. He was an unrequited leftist and what made him interesting is that he could ably argue and story-tell his positions. His columns also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, and the Guardian newspaper. Perhaps his best stuff came through Counterpunch, a lefty newsletter he founded with Jeffrey St. Clair and Ken Silverstein. Cockburn’s early columns came usually in three parts, three stories with each relaying a picture of political life in America. Born in Scotland and brought up in Ireland, most of his writing life was done in the US. He wrote about the beaten and off-beat. “Reagan and Astrology,” Redwood Summer, and the death of San Jose Mercury reporter, Gary Webb who was investigating the CIA’s dealing cocaine for arms to help fund the Contras in Nicaragua. One of his best columns compared the Chicago 8 trail with that of Oliver North’s illegal contra funding, the left having had their day in 1969, the right would now have theirs in 1987. Cockburn wrote: Fascism with a human face, in this case the visage of Lieut. Col. Oliver North, disturbed more than the left political community, which has been correctly proclaiming a Reagan putsch for years. As President Reagan ages in the attic, the youthful colonel spoke up as Reagan écorché, self-satisfied in his contempt for Congress, for law, for the Constitution. If the efficient procedures of the soap opera could be applied, Reagan would now be written out of the script and Ollie brought in as the new lead, as good an actor at half the age. But the scriptwriters are already in Iowa, and Olliemania will have the staying power of the hula hoop. Cockburn spent his later life in Northern California with frequent visits to Santa Cruz. He died on July 22, 2012.
Note: next week I will feature three writers who are “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted as past writers Caen, Ivins and Cockburn did during their time.
Martin Luther King Quote of the Week:
Whenever the government provides opportunities in privileges for white people and rich people they call it “subsidized” when they do it for Negro and poor people they call it “welfare.” The fact that is that everybody in this country lives on welfare. Suburbia was built with federally subsidized credit. And highways that take our white brothers out to the suburbs were built with federally subsidized money to the tune of 90 percent. Everybody is on welfare in this country. The problem is that we all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free enterprise capitalism for the poor. That’s the problem. (Feb. 23, 1968)
The standoff in San Lorenzo Park, cops vs. campers, continues at least until the judge issues her decision on Jan. 20th. Ironically, it is the same day as the presidential swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C.
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His term ended in April of 2020.
Email Chris at email@example.com
WHAT IS THIS MEETING ABOUT?
What exactly is the Santa Cruz County “Regional Conservation Investment Strategy” public meeting this Thursday, January 21, going to be about? The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) put a paid ad in the Sentinel last month, inviting people to comment during the virtual meeting between 6pm and 8pm, but there was absolutely nothing to explain what the material to comment upon actually involves. I wrote the RTC to ask, and received a reply two weeks later directing me to the “now-active” link on the website.
“Interested parties are invited to attend a Virtual Public Meeting to learn about and provide input on the proposed Santa Cruz County Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS).
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) and the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) are developing the RCIS to provide a cohesive and comprehensive conservation strategy and link potential environmental mitigation for proposed infrastructure projects to high-priority conservation projects.
RCIS is a voluntary, non-regulatory regional planning process guided by Assembly Bill 2087″.
….What does THAT mean?
According to the RTC staff, the Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District (RCD) is the lead agency in the work to be unveiled this Thursday. If that is true, why is there NO information about it on the RCD website? It is not even listed on the agency’s Calendar of events.
Researching Assembly Bill 2087 gave more information, but still does not provide any clear picture of whether the conservation projects that could be considered would be providing environmental mitigation for destruction caused by local projects, or others somewhere far away within California. Also, having read the text of AB 2087, the lead agency is the Department of Fish and Wildlife, there is no guaranteed funding for anything.
However, most puzzling is the language in the final section of AB 2087 that states:
The department shall approve no more than eight regional conservation investment strategies before January 1, 2020. The department shall not approve a regional conservation investment strategy or regional conservation assessment pursuant to this chapter on or after January 1, 2020, and shall not enter into a mitigation credit agreement pursuant to this chapter on or after January 1, 2020.
So, what is the point of all this now if the Department of Fish and Wildlife will not approve what is done???
I hope you will be able to join the RTC staff this Thursday, January 21, 6pm-8pm, and ask questions. Let’s hope the answers are in plain language and not “Grant-Speak”.
SEWAGE AS A DISEASE PREDICTION IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
Local UCSC scientists have been taking samples from the Watsonville Sewage Treatment Plant and found that tests determined spikes in SARS-CoV-2 that correlated with later spikes in the disease outbreak. The sampling program had also been done at the Santa Cruz City Sewage Treatment Plant, halted, but may resume. Now Watsonville will be divided into quadrants, and sampling will occur in each quadrant, to get better information about where to expect future disease outbreaks.
The report describes that sampling could target certain buildings, such as schools. Here is how it works:
“To monitor for the prevalence of the virus, wastewater samples can be collected from either centralized locations such as treatment facilities, or more targeted locations such as outside a particular dorm building. Samples are analyzed for presence and quantity of the virus. Researchers can then calibrate their findings based on the presence of another harmless contagion called pepper mild mottle virus that is reliably found in high levels across the population.”
I find it interesting that a plant pathogen would be used as an indicator for general viral loading in sewage. The Pepper Mild Mottle Virus referenced is thought to be related to a tobacco virus
The researchers at UCSC are now busy fine-tuning their analytical ability to be on the lookout for the arrival of more virulent strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has mutated and been a problem in the UK. We are lucky to have a great research institution in Santa Cruz that is working with local health officials and policy makers. Also, many thanks to the new Lookout news and community partners for making this information know to the public.
APTOS/LA SELVA FIRE DISTRICT DISSOLVED BY THE BOARD RIDING HIGH ON THEIR OWN EGOS
The Aptos/La Selva Fire District Board missed a great opportunity last week to reconsider the three members of their Board who will continue to serve the public upon consolidation with Central Fire District. The three men, all retired firefighters, refused to put their egos aside to allow two new Board members, one of whom is a woman specializing in labor relations and financial management and with deep local family ties to rural fire protection, and the other a man with professional expertise in public outreach and marketing.
The reason the issue was on the agenda was because Central Fire District Board decided to change the two members from their agency that will serve on the consolidated District Board. They chose the two newest members, both retired firefighters, but bring fresh energy to the table.
The existing “good old boys” at the Aptos/La Selva Board were angry that members of the public asked that they reconsider their appointments made in 2019, before the new fresh civilian professionals came to their Board. Chairman Scanlon declared “This has ZERO to do with Aptos / La Selva and I see NO reason to make any changes.” Director Darbro declared he had no reason to back away and urged the two new Board members, Marsha Larkin-Marani and Michael Hushaw, to run for election in 2022. Director Luchessi was the most vitriolic. “I will NOT step down from this just because of politics and accusations!”
Apparently none of those three retired firefighters could put their egos aside for one moment to consider an opportunity provided by the Central Fire Board that perhaps the consolidated district could be better-served by inclusion of the fresh energy of two business professionals and labor-minded experts that could be more responsive to the bumps that are certain to arise as the consolidation process transitions. After all, it was Director Larkin-Marani alone, at her first Board meeting, who raised the question last month about the District’s $85,000 legal services contract, and wondered how that served the District. None of the three Directors moving forward has asked such thoughtful questions, leading me to wonder in the past if they had even read budget materials.
It was very disappointing to witness yet another local game of “King of the Mountain” in Santa Cruz County…where supposedly the world is more progressive and inclusive.
The reassuring point is that the new consolidated Fire District will have Chief John Walbridge leading as the official chief. He is accessible, humble and really cares about publicly serving the local community in which he was raised.
The consolidation effort will be finalized on February 3 with the Santa Cruz County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) rubber stamp, despite lack of a protest hearing held within the Districts affected, as is legally required, and would have been possible because both Fire Districts continue to hold in-person Board meetings. The link to the January 6 virtual protest hearing was not provided on either Fire District website, and was difficult to find on the LAFCO website. Thankfully, Aptos/La Selva Fire Administrative Assistant Ms. Sarah Melton, sent out a link that morning that allowed two members of the public to register comments. One was by a woman in La Selva Beach, voicing her community’s concern that the Fire District would get so large that the current neighborhood connections and close relationships will be lost.
CENSORSHIP IS ON THE RISE
A parting thought for the week ahead…who has the right to decide what is misinformation, and thereby censor it? Would not it be better if people could read all sides of an issue and think for themselves?
Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors no longer allows in-person meetings, has reduced public comment time by 33% and requires all commenters to submit written responses to register and agree to allow their material to be deleted at any time. In order to read any comments that people have submitted attached to various agenda items on the Board agenda website, you also must register your information.
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. ASK QUESTIONS AND EXPECT TRUTHFUL ANSWERS. BE KIND TO YOUR NEIGHBORS REGARDLESS OF HOW THEY VOTE. MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK AND JUST DO SOMETHING.
Cheers, and Happy Martin Luther King Day,
Becky (831) 685-2915 (I welcome your discussion.)
Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.
Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com
#16 / Protesters Are Like Your Children
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. has written a column in The Wall Street Journal about the profoundly upsetting mob action that occurred in Washington, D.C. on January 6th. He tells his readers, whom I believe he knows are upset, disheartened, and outraged – as I certainly am – “Don’t Expect Police to Shoot at Crowds.” That’s the title of Jenkins’ column. The police didn’t shoot at the crowd on January 6th, of course, and perhaps had the police shot at the crowd, the actual invasion of the Capitol Building would have been prevented. Or maybe not.
I am having a bit of a hard time figuring out exactly what to think about what happened on January 6th – and even more important, to decide, with any sense of certainty, what I think should happen now. I wouldn’t be surprised if readers have similar feelings. I seem to be thinking lots of different things, simultaneously, and they don’t add up to any easy to define and consistent judgment about either the past or the future. I am trying to work that out.
I do hold the president responsible for what occurred on January 6th, because he encouraged a huge crowd to move towards the Capitol, and his directions did not suggest any limit or restraint with respect to the kind of action that he wanted his supporters to take. He didn’t actually say, “go kill Mike Pence,” but he didn’t tell the crowd that they needed to go “in peace,” either. He only said that after five people had died and those who actually invaded the Capitol Building had failed to carry out what seems clearly to have been their objective – stopping the certification of the Electoral College ballots that officially gave Joe Biden the election.
I suspect that what happened after Trump sent his huge crowd on its way to the Capitol was not just a spontaneous occurrence. I suspect there was a plan, and I also suspect that the president and his close associates were involved in the planning. I tend to believe, in other words, that what happened on January 6th was an “inside job,” as some news reports are now claiming. Anyone who schemed or worked to bring down our democratic government should be tried, and should be punished if found guilty. And some are guilty of exactly that – at least, that is my deep suspicion. That includes, perhaps, the president himself.
But what other persons should be held responsible in this drama? Anyone who actually planned or acted directly to prevent the transfer of power according to the Constitution should be tried and punished, if found guilty of doing that. I find no big problem there. But were Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, who led the fight against the certification of the Electoral College ballots, part of a coup attempt? And what about those Republicans in the Senate and the House who voted against certification of the ballots? Were they, too, part of a coup attempt? That is certainly one possibility, I suppose, but maybe these elected officials were acting, in a typical fashion, as self-interested and self-aggrandizing politicians often do. In other words, maybe they were acting not that much differently from the way most politicians act from time to time. Maybe we ought to let the normal electoral process deal with those elected officials, even though their actions indisputably contributed to the incredibly dangerous events of January 6th.
Those who broke into the building and caused damage, if they can be identified, are clearly guilty of various criminal acts. But what about the rest of the demonstrators? How do we think about them? There were thousands of demonstrators in Washington, D.C. that day, though an accurate crowd size estimate is difficult. The picture above shows men and women who came to demonstrate and protest in Washington, part of the huge crowd that surged to the Capitol with the president’s encouragement. Were the people pictured here part of an “insurrection?” They didn’t bring weapons, and they didn’t actually enter the Capitol Building. They are, in fact, a church group from Martin County, Kentucky.
Virgil Ferguson, one of the members of that church group, was distraught at what happened:
“We thought we would come and just show our support by helping Trump and then later on, it just went, after he got through his speech, it just went down from there,” Ferguson said.
What do we think of, and how do we treat people like those in the Kentucky church group? Here is how Jenkins approaches this issue, in his Wall Street Journal column, comparing what happened on January 6th to events at the 2017 Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville:
In the end, most of the invaders of the Capitol behaved more like tourists than insurrectionists, allowing themselves to be herded out when police had assembled a superior force. It could have been much worse but wasn’t because sense was prevalent on both sides.
A careful postmortem in Charlottesville showed that protesters are like your children: Each one is different. Political activists, gawkers and journalists show up as well as hatemongers of every description, drawn by a hope of mayhem and not overly observant of partisan narratives adopted for the convenience of the media (emphasis added).
Evan Osnos was on the ground with the demonstrators, or protesters, or insurrectionists (you pick the label that you like most), and here is an excerpt from his write-up in the New Yorker. His column is titled, “Mob Rule in the Capitol.”
As another puff of tear gas wafted over the melee with police, Sharon Krahn, a grandmother from Dallas, looked on approvingly. “Our congressmen should be shitting their pants. They need to fear, because they’re too posh,” she said.”Their jobs are too cush, and their personal gain has taken priority over their sense of duty. Maybe they all started off with a good heart, you know, but power corrupts. Our government is proof positive of that.”
She wore a plaid scarf and a gray wool hat, studded with sequins. I asked if the violence in front of us was going too far. “Whose house is this? This is the house of ‘We the People.’ If you do a bad job, your boss tells you about it,” Krahn said. She nodded toward the Senate, where the elected officials had already evacuated to safety: “We’re not happy with the job you’ve done.” She drew a distinction between the scene in front of her and the domain of enemies she called “Antifa and B.L.M.,” who, she said, have “no true aim except destruction and anarchy.”
What should we think about misguided churchgoers who came to Washington, D.C. to support their president, believing that there was fraud in the election that left him defeated? And what about non-church members who showed up for the same reason? And what about that “Kick Ass Grandma” who talked to Osnos? Aren’t they, in fact, a lot like me (and maybe a lot like you, depending on how you are)? I have been to a lot of protests, and I have been just as mad as that grandmother – though our political views don’t match. I actually like the idea of church groups engaging in political demonstrations – and “disruptive” demonstrations, too. Demonstrations about global warming, for instance; or against nuclear weaponry.
I really liked what Jenkins said: “Protesters are like your children. Every one is different.” Looking ahead, maybe we need to respond as if these protesters were members of the family. After all, they sort of are, unless we want to concede that there isn’t any common cause between citizens who disagree, even profoundly disagree, on political issues.
We do love our children, don’t we, even when they act in ways we don’t approve? Don’t we have to love (or at least tolerate) those who get engaged and who demonstrate for their political positions, even if we disagree with those positions, and even if their manner of demonstrating is not to our liking? After all, we all want that kind of treatment for ourselves, and for our own causes. Black Lives Matter demonstrators went marching right through the rich white sections of town, in demonstrations that happened early in 2020. I was so happy to see them do it! Lots of people didn’t like it, though!
Those who came to Washington, D.C. on January 6th, to support President Trump, absolutely contributed to what seems to have been a fairly serious effort to topple democratic government in the United States. But I can’t really fault them for coming out to demonstrate (even though I think that their support for the president’s false claims about the election was terribly and tragically misguided). The demonstrators who came to the Capitol, and other people like them, are properly upset with the United States government. The “Kick Ass Granny” is right on target, too, when she says that too many Members of Congress put personal gain ahead of good public policy. And she’s right that the Capitol is our house, not the property of those politicians whom we send there.
We are not going to save our democracy by turning the United States Capitol into a building defended by wire fences and guns – currently the approach being taken to provide security for the Inauguration of President-Elect Biden on January 20th. In order for our democracy to endure, we are going to have to remember that most of the protesters who showed up in Washington, D.C. on January 6th are “different,” just like our children are. Differences admitted, they are still part of the “family.” Let’s not forget that.
In his column, Jenkins makes this important observation: Let’s focus on a general trope among the Trump opposition: Because I dislike X about Trump, therefore his supporters like X.
When talking to Trump voters or surveying them, the evidence overwhelmingly shows they disliked X too. They disliked most of what non-Trump voters disliked but they voted for him anyway for reasons critics were too lazy and self-satisfied to recognize.
In other words, as I read Jenkins, there is likely to be some significant common ground between those who are still supporting President Trump and those who don’t, never have, and never will. Let’s think about the implications of that.
As I have already said, I think we need criminally to prosecute and punish anyone who can be proved to have planned and/or acted to overthrow democratic government in the United States. That might even include President Trump. For those who can be shown to have violated laws, as they invaded the Capitol, existing criminal penalties are appropriate. For those politicians who played such an ignominious role in helping to make possible the events of January 6th, those Senators and House Members who acted like blatant untruths needed to be taken seriously, I suggest we let the normal political process take care of them.
But the biggest group is the most important. I am talking about those demonstrators who came to Washington, D.C. to support the president, but who didn’t invade the Capitol Building themselves. This group includes “Kick Ass Grannies,” church group members, and others. We might also include those who didn’t come to Washington personally, but who sympathized with and agreed with those who did. That is a very large share of voters who are registered as Republicans, as I understand recent polling. A column in my hometown newspaper, this morning, written by one of those Trump-supporting voters who didn’t actually go to Washington on January 6th, but who sympathizes with and identifies with those who did, suggests some sort of effort at reconciliation might be worthwhile.
I think those of us who are upset, disheartened, and outraged by what happened on January 6th, need to start talking to our Trump-supporting fellow citizens.
Let’s listen to what they have to say. Let’s see what we can work out. I don’t think that there is really any other good choice.
*For folks from Santa Cruz, the University of California has just recently released its proposed “Long Range Development Plan” (LRDP), which proposes adding almost 10,000 new students to the Santa Cruz Campus. The EIR process just described will have to be followed. Click right here to be directed to a website where you can obtain a copy of the LRDP and the Draft EIR. The deadline for comments is March 8, 2021.
Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org
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EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.
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